Senior living activity directors are typically long on energy and enthusiasm but short on time. Each day, they are asked to deliver diverse, engaging programs that match group interests and individual preferences – often with limited resources.
Job seekers in the senior care labor market have no shortage of employment options. Employers are vigorously competing for an ever-shrinking pool of qualified staff. A key differentiating strategy for senior care employers is to be an “employer of choice” by creating a healthy, highly supportive, employee-centric workplace.
Preventing falls is a top concern for seniors. Falls and related injuries can seriously impact senior lives, limiting activities and compromising the ability to live independently. Senior care providers are working hard to ensure their living environments, activity programs, and staff education initiatives help residents stay safe from falls.
Each of us has a unique identity and life story. Seniors, in particular, have lived many life chapters – and typically welcome the opportunity to reminisce and share life learnings. A resource from Lifetime Wellness helps senior living providers get to know their residents’ life stories and build a person-centered care plan that can help make life more familiar and comfortable.
Exercise is essential to keeping seniors healthy, active, and motivated. But getting them on board with a well-rounded exercise program can be a challenging task. Senior living providers are looking for fresh approaches to engage residents in fitness – with easy-to-implement group programs that still meet individual needs.
Short-term rehabilitation, or “rehab,” centers provide critical medical follow-up for patients in their first days after a hospital stay. These facilities are key to ensuring a continued high level of care that helps patients regain health, strength, and mobility. They can mean the difference between a frustrating rebound to the hospital and a seamless return to home.
Recovery requires more than just top-tier clinical care. It also involves providing opportunities for purposeful activity and engagement. One best-practice innovation is “Wellness on Wheels,” a mobile concierge program offering a range of portable activities for residents and their families.
Many senior living communities are looking for ways to decrease the use of antipsychotic medications through nonpharma approaches. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has set a national goal of reducing the use of antipsychotic medication in long-term care facilities by 15 percent by the end of 2019.
A viable alternative? Aromatherapy. CMS supports the use of aromatherapy as an “individualized, nonpharmacological intervention to help meet behavioral health needs.” Clinical studies point to promising results: aromatherapy programs have helped in reducing medications for pain, anxiety, and depression, as well as improving sleep and lowering fall rates.
Lillian, formerly an opera singer and today a resident living with Dementia, likes to sing loudly. It’s her way of communicating. But it can be disruptive. To help her focus on other activities that feel familiar, staff in the community where she lives put together a “life engagement kit.”
An employee exodus continues to batter the senior living industry, with an average staff churn rate of 42 percent. Unhealthy, unhappy, and “unhinged” employees can lead to widespread fallout, from poor health outcomes and lower satisfaction for patients to higher costs and a tarnished reputation for senior care providers.
In a highly competitive senior care labor market, delivering a consistently positive experience for employees is a key differentiator. A viable way to attract and hold on to dedicated staff is through an employee wellness program– designed to enhance the physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of those who care for residents.
Part 2: Celebrating Every Beat
As noted in our previous blog, February is American Heart Health Month, a 28-day celebration of heart health. To help seniors understand and avoid the risk factors for cardiac disease, Lifetime Wellness – a leading provider of wellness services to senior living facilities – is supporting its partner communities in conducting a February wellness campaign. The theme is “Celebrate Every Beat…Live a Heart-Healthy Life.”
Part 1: Meeting the Need
“Many believe that heart disease is a fact of life in our senior years. Yet we have plenty of ways to keep our hearts in great shape, at every age,” says Callie Whitwell, chief operating officer and founding partner at Lifetime Wellness. “Understanding how to best approach daily health is essential, and being in the know about a heart condition can alleviate anxiety.”
Yet surprisingly, just 3 percent of seniors have the foundational knowledge to monitor their personal health, follow care plans, and pursue healthy behaviors. “We work with senior living communities to help residents understand how they can put less stress on the heart,” says Whitwell.